AUDIO STORY – APRIL 2020
The Badgers of Bushy Coombe
Pathways roll out across the coombe like mini adventures awaiting the roving paws of their nighttime walkers. Pads, as they are known, provide the badgers with a map of territorial boundaries and routes to foraging grounds. The badgers plot sure paths, confirmed in scent and padded nightly for decades by the ancestors of the Bushy Coombe clan.
I follow one such pathway, it leads me towards a grand oak on a steep embankment, surrounded by a thicket of mixed undergrowth and young trees. The Oak is the badger’s doorway to the underworld, their set is dug into the hill and the downward reaching roots of the oak form dramatic pillars on each side of the entrance. The trunk towers above, marking the portal to an immense badger palace. Who knows how many generations of Bushy Coombe badger royalty have given birth beneath this 300 year old oak.
The main tunnel rises from darkness into the semi light of woodland, a kind of intermediate patch between the badger home and open coombe. The primary path splays into three secondary trails, the most well trodden leads down the hill, snaking gently through the meadow towards the brook at the bottom of the coombe, where it disappears behind an old willow. Other paths lead to other places of importance, good foraging, a place to roll around, perhaps one of these tracks leads to the grove where the creatures hold council in the night.
Observing the lines as they stretch out across the Coombe, like far reaching abstract art pieces on the landscape, one is beckoned into the world of badger. My perception is lowered to creature altitude as I am coaxed along their intimate trails. Effortlessly gliding through the little grass mumps, I am no longer travelling on foot, but by paw, the grass verging on each side allowing for swift stealthy crossing from one side of the coombe to my favourite spot under the oak, down by the brooke.
I am yet to spot a bushy coombe badger, I can only imagine them emerging from their sets at dusk, shuffling down the hill towards their brambled gateway, furry heroes embarking on mini adventures. The paths are the imprinted memories of the wise badger ancestors, they are ancient maps, laying unchanged for decades and to guide the badgers for many generations to come.
Matt Witt 20/04/2020